Women Of The Channel 2014: Use Your Brain And Win In Business

Focus, Exercise That Brain

The Human Factor CEO and Managing Director Holly Green offered brain tips and tricks during two sessions at last week's Women of the Channel West conference.

The Human Factor is a management consulting company that has worked with Microsoft, Edwards Lifesciences and Google among other companies.

Green's conference workshop offered brain tip exercises meant to help people be more effective inside and outside the office.

Her second talk that closed out the conference dovetailed off her workshop brain tips and tricks to become what she called an elite leader.

Slow Down

The world and people are moving fast. Technology's aiding that pace, but it's also been a partial impediment to people's abilities to focus and tackle projects.

Slowing down can provide clarity to work through tasks at either work or home. That, in turn, can help get things done faster, Green said.

Learn to pause, which will be the hardest thing you do, and visit your brain, she said.

"Take a second to think and not just run," Green said.

Ladder of Inference

The brain goes through a specific process before it takes action.

That process is best illustrated by Chris Argyris's ladder of inference, Green said.

The bottom rung of that ladder is observations and experiences. The brain then moves up the ladder to pick out data based on those observations. Meanings are then added based on a person's experiences. Assumptions are then formed based on those meanings and conclusions. The final two runs of the ladder are adopted beliefs and then action.

Green suggests people get to know this ladder of inference so they can pause at each step of the ladder to question whether the conclusions they've made could be wrong or if they've considered other options or need more information before acting on something.

Clarity On Winning

Practice success visioning and be "crystal clear on the win," Green said.

"The brain has enormous power over the body," she said.

Executives who can clearly focus on the win or the target are that much more likely to achieve that win.

"Specificity on the win is critical and it's one of the things the elite [leaders] do well," she said.

To get specific about the win, executives should know what that win looks like for the project, team and company. Practice asking questions about the win in the future, active and past tense, Green suggested.

Seek Alternatives

When you slow down and focus, ask yourself what the second right answer is, even if you are certain the conclusion you've made is the right one.

Explore aspects to that decision, Green said, and what that conclusion could mean for the business, team, product, market, customers and the future. Also try to anticipate what may happen if the decision reached is the wrong one.

Then ask what the second right answer is.

Companies or executives who do this end up succeeding because the second right answer is usually how businesses differentiate themselves from competitors, Green said.

Elite Leaders

Business leaders can study other sectors outside their industry for a fresh perspective on learning what works and what doesn't.

Looking at how leaders in other industries operate and manage their teams can provide new insights and tips for organizations on how to effectively lead and compete in business.

Take Action

Elite leaders are decisive and do what they say they're going to do.

There has to be integrity between someone's words and what they actually do. Action proves dedication to the goal.

"It's all about what you do; it's not about intention. ... Good intentions are crap," Green said. "It is only what you do that matters."

Play To Win

Analyze how you or your company approach projects and ask do you play to win or do you play to lose, Green asked those in the audience.

The latter is a passive approach to work that doesn't include full dedication to achieving a goal. It also doesn't help to propel an organization forward either.

Effective leaders always approach projects with a play-to-win mind-set, she said.


Most people like getting feedback, but don't enjoy giving it. Learn to love giving it, Green said.

Get good at giving feedback if you want to lead a team and a company.

She ended her final talk of the conference with a few simple guidelines: listen, pause, reflect, expand, explore, self-correct.